There is something about walking into the place you live and feeling an overwhelming sense of comfort. When I moved across the country into my very first apartment I spent weeks feeling like a stranger in my own space. It reminded me of my consulting days where I was hotel hopping every few weeks. It actually took me more time than I’d like to admit to make my place feel less like a hotel and more like a home.
I mentioned in a previous piece, I spent hours roaming around Home Goods when I first moved. I want to share how I put that roaming to good use, how it helped bring my place to life, and how it helped me finally feel at home!
For my entry way, I found a super cute clock that said, “Grand Central Station”. I loved it. It reminded me of NYC and since I’m from the East Coast it reminded me of my roots! I then found out a long time family friend of mine was creating beautiful custom paintings, so I asked her to make me one that said, “Masha’Allah” (God has willed) an expression that means appreciation, joy, praise, or thankfulness for an event or person that was just mentioned – thanks Wikipedia for the clear definition. I also asked for, “Alhamduliallah” which essentially is a form of praising God. I chose those two phrases as a reminder to myself to show gratitude every single day for the opportunities I was given and to appreciate the condition of my life no matter what it might be. She was able to put them on royal blue paint with gold lettering to match the theme I was going for. I also chose to showcase two water colors from my travels, one from Seattle and another I bought in London. Finally, I accented this little nook with a mirror and a frame I purchased for a bargain from Home Goods. I loved walking into my apartment and seeing this as soon as I entered!
This chair is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. I actually bought it ten months after moving into my place on a whim. It currently sits in my bedroom in the shared apartment I have now. The chair was a steal on discount from over $400 to a whopping $69! I accented it with a giant comfy pillow for $30 and a throw for $13. I thought the pop of color in the pillow and the light pink throw made for cute accents. I chose a matching ottoman that doubles as storage for my prayer rugs. This is by far one of my favorite purchases and visitors love to kick their feet up and cozy up on it. I also bought a photo board in the same shopping trip. It’s now filled with snapshots of my family and friends, mostly photos taken on my Instax camera which was gifted to me by my sister and friend.
Ah, my couches. These were a gift from my mom after I signed my lease prior to moving. We went to a store called Cort in Cupertino that sells staging furniture after it has been professionally cleaned for a fraction of the price. Since I didn’t know how long I would be staying in California, spending a lot on couches didn’t seem economical. With delivery these were around $600, original retail is around $1,500. The hidden gem behind these couches is that although they are not the prettiest, they are certainly the comfiest couches ever. My guests, including my sister, actually preferred to sleep on these bad boys instead of my blowup bed. I don’t have a TV so comfort was a priority since this was where I would be spending my chill time after a long day.
Behind the couches I placed a bunch of mirrors and frames that I found at Big Lots. I didn’t want bare walls but I also didn’t want to blow a lot on chic frames or mirrors that I may toss out or give away if I moved. The little rug beneath my coffee table was $20 from Big Lots as well. My couches were kind of a boring color and the pop in the rugs would help liven up the place a bit. My final living room piece is a really cool coffee table I got at Pier 1 Imports. For whatever reason, I had a really hard time finding a coffee table I liked. Silly right? It actually took me about 3 months to find this, I wanted something round and gold and everything I came across wasn’t doing it for me. I ended up “splurging” on this and got it for $164! The top is this gold finished metal and the legs and bottom have a unique design. The funniest thing about this table is that I had to lug it solo from Pier 1 in my convertible (in the winter) and then to my apartment from the parking deck. One of the down sides of living alone is carrying furniture by yourself!
Next in my decor journey is my dining set. This table was a last resort purchase from Walmart.com. I knew I wanted a dining set but didn’t want to commit to anything too pricey (and I’m glad I didn’t). I spent about $200 and a Saturday afternoon on this bad boy. It was one of those pieces of furniture that you need to spend ours putting together because of all the screws. I loved the white because it brightened up the place. I did have to buy table mats because I was worried I’d stain or ruin it (not pictured here). I’m glad I did because when I sold it a year later it was in near perfect condition. The rug here was also from Big Lots as well as the frames. The top photo was gifted to me by my best friend before I moved and the “YOLO” frame was a birthday gift from a former colleague. This table was pretty sturdy and I was sad to sell it on LetGo since I had so many memories with friends sitting around the table enjoying a good meal, but I knew it went to a happy home!
It might be a California thing but my apartment came with these cute little built in shelves. Unfortunately, my new place didn’t have these so I opted to purchase a leaning bookshelf from Wayfair.com. I filled this shelving unit with photos and frames gifted to me that I brought cross-country from NJ when I moved. I loved having a little nook dedicated to my family and friends right in my living space. The frame in the middle says “Where you go, go with all your heart,” a friend got me that before I moved and it was always a nice reminder. My sister had made me a photo book, on the top left, for my birthday one year with a ton of pictures with my niece, nephew and I. Another frame on the top shelf says, “Happiness is the secret to all beauty,” with a photo of my friend and I laughing in Greece a few years ago. Every frame here has sentimental value.
The finale, my bedroom! The first night I arrived in California my sister and I went to Home Goods and bought this comforter set. Hues of blue was my theme for the whole place. I really just went with the comforter for the color but the pattern ended up growing on me. I added my own beaded accent pillow just for fun. My bed frame, mattress, and headboard were all from Amazon. I opted for this cool folding frame for $76 that also doubled for storage and there’s a ton of space underneath for me to slide my empty luggage. The mattress was only $200 because again, I wasn’t ready to commit to something more expensive since my move was temporary. My headboard was $93, I wanted something tufted but also didn’t want to spend too much on something I may be selling later. I later added a, “Namaste” frame above my bed and two accent mirrors just so it doesn’t look so bare. My lamp and nightstand were finds from Home Goods as well. The lamp was only $30 and the nightstand around $130. The colors didn’t really go with the bed but I loved the nightstand so much I didn’t care. I did later get buyer’s remorse because one of the knobs broke and the top of the nightstand got stained from a bottle of water.
There you have it! My decor on a budget and the transformation of a house into a home. I really feel decor is what makes a space feel home-y. It’s also a little bit of my personality that I can share with my house guests.